Montezuma/Paymaster Herd Management Areas Wild Horse and Burro Gather

About the Montezuma and Paymaster Herd Management Areas

The Tonopah Field Office (TFO) is proposing to conduct a wild horse and burro gather to remove excess wild horses and burros from portions of the Montezuma, Magruder Mountain, Sheep Mountain, Yellow Hills, and Monte Cristo Allotments and from within the Montezuma Peak and Paymaster HMAs as needed. Approximately 123 excess wild horses and 61 excess wild burros would be removed with first priority for removal being excess animals residing outside of the HMA boundaries within the associated allotments.

The post gather population goal for the proposed gather is 3 wild horses and 10 burros in the Montezuma Peak HMA and 23 wild horses in the Paymaster HMA. Wild horses and burros removed from the range during the gather would be transported to BLM facilities for preparation and inclusion into the Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Program or to long term holding pastures (wild horses only).

During the gather, the BLM would collect information on herd characteristics and determine herd health during the gather. Hair samples would be collected for baseline genetics analysis.

The Montezuma Peak HMA is located just to the west of the town of Goldfield, 26 miles south of Tonopah in Esmeralda County, Nevada. The area encompasses an area approximately 9 miles wide and 21 miles long. The majority of the HMA is dominated by shrubs with little grass, particularly in dry years. The area receives only 3 inches of precipitation in the valley bottoms and 12 inches on the mountain tops. This HMA is in the transition zone between the Great Basin (cold desert) and the Mojave Desert (hot desert). Habitat in the Montezuma Peak HMA is well suited for wild burro use, but contains little forage suitable for wild horse use.

The Paymaster HMA lies 7 miles west of Tonopah in Esmeralda County, Nevada, and comprises approximately 100,500 acres. Few fences exist across much of the area, which allow the wild horses unrestricted movement areas outside the HMA boundary as well as the Montezuma Peak HMA. Because of steep terrain, limited forage, and few accessible perennial waters, the Paymaster HMA itself receives little actual use by wild horses, which reside in the Montezuma Allotment outside the boundaries of the HMA.

The gather area encompasses the Montezuma Peak and Paymaster HMAs and the portions of the Montezuma, Magruder Mountain, Yellow Hills, Sheep Mountain, and Monte Cristo allotments outside of the HMAs in which wild horses and burros are commonly present. The area falls under the jurisdictional boundaries of the Tonopah Field Office. Maps of the HMAs and the proposed gather area are located within the Montezuma Peak and Paymaster Wild Horse and Burro Gather EA.

The most recent helicopter population inventory flight of the Montezuma Peak and Paymaster HMAs was conducted in February, 2010 which resulted in a direct count of 129 wild horses and 61 wild burros with 132 of the 190 animals observed (69%) located outside of the HMA boundaries. The anticipated post-foaling population in 2010 will be 149 wild horses and 71 wild burros. Inventory data indicates that the Montezuma Peak and Paymaster HMA herds maintain an average annual rate of increase of 16%.

The Montezuma Peak and Paymaster HMA wild horse and burro gather is needed to: 

  • remove wild horses and burros from areas outside the HMAs that are not designated for wild horse use, 
  • remove excess wild horses and burros from within the HMAs to achieve a population size consistent with the established AML, allowing for up to three years of population growth before AML is again exceeded, 
  • to protect the wild horse and burro populations from diminished health and body condition, and suffering emergency conditions due to a lack of forage and water,
  • protect rangeland resources from deterioration associated with an overpopulation of wild horses and burros, and 
  • restore and maintain a thriving natural ecological balance and multiple use relationship on the public lands consistent with the provisions of Section 3(b) (2) of the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 (WFRHBA). 

By removing excess wild horses and burros and maintaining a population consistent with the established AML, progress would be made towards achievement of Mojave/Southern Great Basin Resource Advisory Council (RAC) Standards for Rangeland Health. Please refer to the EA for more detail about the Montezuma Peak and Paymaster HMAs and the proposed wild and burro horse gather.

Questions and Answers


Gather Photos

Daily Gather Reports

To view the Montezuma Peak and Paymaster Gather video, please visit our BLM Nevada YouTube website at Click here for the transcript of the video.

Decision Documents

Final Environmental Assessment (EA)

Decision Record (DR) 

Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI)

Map 1 - Paymaster/Montezuma Peak HMA 
Map 2 - BLM Allotments

Appeal Form 1842-1

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